¿Quién sabe? Elections in Oaxaca, Baja California
We’re well within the three-day blackout period for Mexican election reporting. Unlike the U.S., Mexico forbids any last minute campaigning or election eve opinion polls. Fox News, the BBC and Star were blocked out of Mexico during the last Presidential elections for failing to black out their reports coming into Mexico, and in Baja, two newspapers may be fined for printing “candidate profiles” in their weekend editions.
So, it’s hard to say what’s going to happen, other than there will be an election tomorrow. Zeta magazine’s last report before the blackout predicted a very low turnout in Baja, estimating only 37% of voters would go to the polls. Although there are five candidates for Governor, it has come down to a very close (and unpredictable) race between PRI-Green candidate Jorge Hank Rhon and PAN’s José Guadalupe Osuna Millán.
Osuna is an economist, and PAN has controlled the state for several years. Hank is a … uh… “colorful” figure. Hank’s father, Carlos Hank Gonzales, an old guard PRI leader, is best remembered for his remark, “a politician who is poor is a poor politician.” Jorge is a chip off the old block — a billionaire (his legitimate business is betting parlors) with alleged ties to organized crime (his bodyguards are implicated in several murderers, including those of journalists) eccentric with 18 known children. He attributes his political success to his virility, and his virility to his morning dose of tequila and rattlesnake venom, stirred (not shaken) with a lion’s penis.
The Governorship in Oaxaca is not on the ballot, but the Governor is the focus of the election for state legislature. I translated this report from Jornada:
Oaxaca, Oax. There is a climate of tension and growing uncertainty the day before elections for the local Congress in this south Mexican state. The elections follow a year of conflict between the state government and organizations opposing it. A recent bomb explosion at a shopping center, attributed to the Ejército Popular Revolucionario (EPR), has added to the tension.
According to information from the State Elections Institute (Instituto Estatal Electoral (IEE)), there are 2,383,667 voters in Oaxaca’s 570 municipios. The state is divided into 25 legislative districts, in which the candidate with the largest relative majority of votes is the winner. The remainder is chosen by proportional representation over 17 districts within the state.
The 4,576 polling stations will have 32,032 citizens selected as voting officials [trans. Note: polling station workers are drafted, much as juries are in the United States, from the voter rolls]. In addition there will be 2,499 accredited observers, according to the IEE.
In this contest, the PRI is allied with the Green Party (Partido Verde Ecologista de México) under the fusion ticket , La Alianza que Construye; the PRD is heading the coalition Por el Bien de Todos, which includes the Workers’ (Partido del Trabajo) and Convergencia parties. PAN, Nueva Aliaza and the local Unidad Popular are running single party tickets.
In the present legislature, the PRI has a majority in the now 59 seat legislature, with 23 Deputies. PRD has 8; PAN 7 and Convergencia, Green, Workers and Unidad Popular one each.
Florentino López Martínez, spokesman for the Asamblea Popular de los Pueblos de Oaxaca (APPO), the organization which, together with the teachers’ groups is calling for Goveror Ulises Ruiz to step down, said that his group is keeping up its campaign to vote against PRI and PAN, which they consider repressors of the dissident movement.
“The APPO urges the people to go to the polls and vote neither for PRI nor for PAN. Oaxaca will be grateful,” he said, adding :
“We must be organized this Sunday. Our community is fighting a battle to overthow the tyrant (a reference to the governor) and we are all allies in that struggle.”
For his part, Secretary of Citizen Protection, Sergio Segreste said he has launched “Operation Elections 2007”, which involves “permanent surveillance of all parts of the state, and, specifically in the Capital, patrols in commercial areas, and around banks, stores, foreign companies, radio stations and newspaper offices.”